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Personal Service Business Owners Pleased To Reopen

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It has been a long time coming, but hair salons and tattoo studios are finally able to reopen for business thanks to the new public health orders announced last week.

Charmed Salon reopened for business on Saturday, which means everything, according to owner-operator LeeAnne Gibbs.

“It’s our livelihood. It’s our career. It’s what we do,” she said. “It’s my life.”

Gibbs and her staff will continue with extended cleaning and sanitizing after every client.

“We basically clean every place a client has touched,” she said, adding they are working by appointment only at 50 per cent capacity. Reopening is proving to be stressful, Gibbs said, because they are trying to contact so many people without leaving people out.

“It’s very overwhelming to try to do it. We never get very much notice, so the days leading up to opening are very stressful,” she said.

Gibbs is grateful to the community for its support while they were closed. “But we also ask for their patience as we reopen,” she added.

Shear Passion Hair Studio opened on Monday. Owner-operator Shannon Denbow said they will continue to follow the same guidelines as before they were forced to close.

“We’ll be working at a reduced capacity of 50 per cent and we still have to follow the public health orders, sanitizing,” she said, adding they will be working by appointment only.

Being shut down for a third time, Denbow said, was far worse than previous shut downs.

“At Christmas we had lots of sales of products still. But this time around, people didn’t seem to be buying as much as they were before. So it’s been tough alright,” she said. Denbow’s staff will be alternating days and shifts so they can all work. Denbow admitted being able to reopen came as a shock.

“We were expecting to be closed for a bit yet. So we were pretty shocked. But after talking to people, they’re excited to have us back,” she said, adding she missed seeing her regulars and meeting new clients, as well as listening to the latest gossip.

Denbow appreciates the support they have received from the community while closed.

“People are still very kind. They were very concerned about us. We’ve had lots of people checking in and some very generous acts of kindness towards us. So that’s been really nice,” she said.

The barbershop at Beauty and the Barber opened Monday, while the hair salon opened today (June 29). Both will operate by appointment only.

Like before, masks are mandatory and they will each be taking only one client at a time. Owner-operator Erroll Karlson said the entire staff will be returning and working in shifts to adhere to the 50 per cent capacity.

Karlson and rest of the staff will being working extended hours in an effort to catch up on appointments that were cancelled when the latest lockdown occurred.

This latest reopening, Karlson said, feels like it is time to look forward and not look back.

“It’s exciting because we feel like this is the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations programs that have gone on and how well it’s going,” he said. “We actually truly feel like this is it. We feel like we’re not going to get shut down again and now we can refocus. We’ve restructured some things in the business and we’re going to have to move forward and recover.”

Karlson admits he will never understand why barbershops and hair salons were closed when there was little or no evidence to show there was any imminent outbreaks of COVID in those businesses.

“The thing is, you set that aside and we’re just happy to be open and working. We just want to work. When it boils down to it, we just want to work. We want to be open. We want to just provide the same quality of service to our clients that we always have because we love what we do and we’re back at her now,” he said.

Ragged Edge Tattoo owner-operator Clint Rudkavich looked forward to reopening on Monday.

“It’s definitely a weight lifted off the shoulders and a relief. We’re just happy to get back to work,” he said, adding it was extremely tough to be shut down for more than nine months. “I’m just really excited to get back to work and to start seeing my clients again,” he said.

For Robbie Tomkins of Boho Tattoo Shop, reopening is a matter of continuing to follow protocols put in place because of the pandemic. He and his staff were in the shop over the weekend cleaning and disinfecting in preparation of opening today (June 29).

“We closed down for a month now. It’s almost a practice now. We’re getting used to this unfortunately. So we were prepared. I’ve been in the shop numerous times during the lockdown just keeping the shop updated. That way when we were to reopen, it’s an easy transition again,” he said.

Tomkins said they will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.

“We go with one client anyway. It’s not like we have 10 people at the same time and we’re down to five. We have one client, it’s one-on-one, so it’s a little different animal for us.”

As a private studio, Boho operates by appointment only, with the doors locked when working on a customer.

“We still follow all Manitoba Health regulations. Masks, things like that. We do tracing form. We do our waiver. We go through hand washing for our clients. And we do supply masks if they need one,” Tomkins said.

Because they adhere to strict health guidelines and practices as it is, Tomkins said the only real change was wearing masks at all times.

“We have the proper cleaning chemicals and everything in order to make sure that a virus doesn’t spread. So being shut down does get frustrating, but again, you follow what the guidelines are what Manitoba Health says,” he said, adding his clients have been understanding throughout the pandemic.

Like other tattoo businesses, Shayne Montpetit of Alternative Nature Custom Tattooz is operating as a private business.

“So appointment only. One person comes in and that’s it. No more open door, come in and browse. It’s still very limited, but I actually kind of like it this way because it gives the client more privacy, less distractions,” he said. “The changes, I like them. I like them a lot.”

Half of his job, Montpetit said, is on disease prevention, cleaning his shop after every client.

“Tattooing, the artists and piercers were the most ready for something like this. But then, because it’s a personal service and there’s a lot of one-on-one, we’re the ones that, along with barbers, got shut down,” he said.

While he is pleased to be open again, the time off gave Montpetit a chance to reflect on life.

“It shows you that your job doesn’t necessarily reflect who you are at all times. It’s not like it used to be where you’re defined by what you do for a living. It’s given me time to slow down and smell the roses sometimes,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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